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Rebel’s story takes place just days after Prairie Magic’s ending. On Saturday, February second, a cold winter morning in Buffalo Grass, South Dakota, Faith Hanson has been assigned the duty of bathing Rebel in the luxurious comfort of the family’s fabulous equine facility. The wild but beautiful gelding, who had bucked off neighbor Roger Jensen just days earlier, waited in the arena. Tokada would have finished the chore himself but was unavailable due to a mysterious commitment later that same day.
After working with Rebel, Faith was completely charmed. Later that afternoon, Tokada secretly met Victor—who had flown back to surprise Hope—at the at the airport. On their way to baggage claim, Tokada explained that Roger had died from complications from his fall off Rebel and they would have to hurry to make it to the funeral.
At that same time, Mansi and Grace helped prepare Patrice (who wasgrieving the loss of her brother) and Erik (who would soon face jail time). Both were emotional and needed to pull it together to attend Roger’s service. Grace helped Erik realize that he should focus on getting through this crisis to become prosperous again in the future.
At the Black Hills Church of Eternal Light, friends and family gathered to say their final farewell. Tokada and Victor quietly took a seat in the back. They had both agreed to keep Victor’s arrival clandestine until the services ended. In the middle of the ceremony, Banker Rod Peabody’s wife, Associate Reverend Aiyanna Eagle, delivered an inspirational sermon. Patwin was enchanted by the wise and stunning woman. He felt strangely connected to her. Before the funeral ended, Victor and Tokada exited quietly, deciding it would be better to surprise Hope at home.
As the congregation prepared to depart in the frigid wintertime conditions, many cars refused to start. Chivalrously, Patwin volunteered to stay behind to jump-start engines. His family agreed to meet him back at Home on the Range. After successfully getting all the stalled mourners on the road, Patwin stepped back into the church to wash his hands before heading home. In the hallway, he experienced a chance encounter with Reverend Eagle. She invited him back to her office to share vital information. Before handing him the critical envelope, they discussed her upcoming mission to Mexico. Patwin was enthralled with the idea of dedicating his efforts to helping the less fortunate. At the close of their meeting, Aiyanna shared her shocking news.
Driving home, Hope felt weary. It had been a long week. Her son Leif reminded her that TGIM (Tana, Genevieve, Izzy and Merri of the famed Thank God It’s Monday enterprise) would be preparing the evening’s feast. Earlier, Hope had agreed to host Roger’s funeral reception. She was now regretting that decision. Feeling sickly and exhausted, she began missing Victor and longed to see him again. Because their phone conversations had been brief, she worried he had had a change of heart.
At Home on the Range, while awaiting the arrival of the mourners, TGIM visited with Victor. After quizzing him about his plans, they pitched him an offer to rent Tana’s extra trailer house in Buffalo Grass. The idea seemed less than optimal to wealthy Victor.
Moments later, the crowd began to arrive. At long last, Victor caught a glimpse of Hope. She looked pale and weak. Boldly, he rushed to her, catching her fevered body mid-collapse. Quickly, he carried her to the quiet comfort of her bedroom and settled her to rest in bed. She was both amazed and relieved to see him.
The next day, as agreed, Victor visited Tana’s extra trailer home, which turned out to be a gorgeous triple-wide on a permanent foundation nestled on 400 lush acres. He agreed to purchase the property for a large sum of money and immediately moved in to enjoy a simple but luxurious rural lifestyle.
The last six weeks of winter passed productively. Mansi, Tokada, Hope and Victor spent time together and bonded their relationships. Patwin met secretly with Aiyanna many times as their relationship flourished. His girlfriend Faith felt his aloof demeanor and wondered why he was so distracted. EJ recovered from surgery and grew closer to Faith. Andy and Zach met with Julio and Blake to discuss management of the Adventure Seekers’ plans. All four agreed that the kids needed a warm-up project to cut their teeth on. During the meeting, they learned that Blake’s cancer had taken over and doctors had suggested that he check into hospice. Julio begged him to call Mansi to see if she could help.
On March twenty-first, the date of Hope’s big First Day of Spring party, Wolfgang arrived with his son, Ben. He told Julio and Tokada about a large Wyoming ranch he had inherited from a late aunt. Andy and Zach showed interest in funding a project to convert the property into a resort. Patwin disclosed to Faith and his parents his plans to attend MIT. He would need to leave for Massachusetts the day after his May graduation.
Meanwhile, Blake, who was at death’s door, arrived at the Plucked Flower Spa. Mansi, Grace and Hope began a desperate struggle to save his life. At that same time, two troubled women met at a Chicago truck stop and agreed to travel west together. The first, Allison, was escaping her overbearing family. Her father, Oliver Armstrong, was a presidential candidate. The other, who we come to know as Brie, was a New Jersey native who had accidently witnessed a murder and could identify a major Mexican drug dealer. Under the cover of night, they continued to flee until they arrived in Rapid City and decided to rest.
The next day, the entire team traveled to Devils Tower to visit Wolfgang’s ranch. Unfortunately, high hopes subsided when the team discovered deplorable conditions. Tokada, on the other hand, was impressed and envisioned a thriving resort. Andy and Zach agreed to take on the challenge of restoration, realizing this would be the perfect project to train the team to become general contractors and managers of larger endeavors.
The crew agreed to A-Z’s proposal and planned to meet in three weeks on April eleventh. Because the opening date would be early June, they had much work to complete in a very short amount of time. To hire staff, Leif posted a Craigslist ad and attracted Allison and Brie. While administering tasks and jobs, Tokada declared himself Chief Director of Marketing and boasted he would book the resort for years to come.
On April first, Aiyanna left for Mexico, breaking Patwin’s heart. That evening, he became withdrawn while spending time under the full moon with EJ, Leif and Faith, who was sitting atop Rebel. After Leif and Patwin left to return to their dormitories to prepare for tests, EJ and Faith shared a tender moment. At that same time, Victor, Tokada, Andy and Zach traveled to Arizona to purchase a string of trail-ride horses for the resort. There, they met Gemma Jackson, a spunky young lady who would eventually return to the resort to become a member of the staff.
At the April eleventh meeting, Andy and Zach introduced Gemma, and Leif fell in love. By then, Julio had become drawn to Tana, and Wolfgang had paired with Allison. During the business discussions, the crew decided to convert the ranch into an RV/bunkhouse/tent/teepee resort with a swimming pool, hiking path and trail rides, which Tokada named “Trip Through the Heavens.” He decided to name his barn “Zodiac.”
They agree to name the resort “A Fork in the Road.” Leif quickly posted an ad on a biker site and immediately booked the first two weeks of August. The surprise windfall instantly covered all planned expenses—and then some. Because of the apparent popularity, Andy and Zach contributed more funding.
Victor disclosed to Andy and Zach his working relationship with travel agent Christopher Columbus. A few days later, after receiving a descriptive email, the silly professional booked the resort for the entire season.
A few days after the meeting, Patwin met Faith for lunch. He wanted to give her a beautiful jade ring, which, in effect, would signify that they were engaged to be engaged. She was charmed by the offering and wondered if she had misjudged his recent distant attitude. Unfortunately, their waitress noticed a cell phone photo of Patwin with Aiyanna, arm-in-arm and toasting with a glass of wine. Confused, not knowing what to think or what to believe, Faith ended their relationship. Upon learning about the break-up, EJ visited Rebel, where he confessed his romantic feelings for Faith. Worried about his son, Tokada rushed back to South Dakota for an important father-son visit.
On April twenty-first, at the First Day of Taurus meeting, which happened to be Patwin’s twenty-second birthday, Tokada shared insight about the importance of hard work. During the meeting, Victor invited Hope into the center of the sacred circle and made a very special announcement.
A few weeks later, Tokada and Victor traveled to Churchill Downs to see the Kentucky Derby. To avoid causing a stir, famous Mr. Good Elk wore an outlandish disguise. Acting ridiculously while betting (and winning) on a long-shot, Tokada caught the attention of national news broadcasters.
Many interviews (and plugs for A Fork in the Road) later, much attention was drawn to Tokada’s website. Later that night, Victor wondered if all the shenanigans were really an act, as he suspected Tokada put on a show to get attention. Within a few days, the resort bookings soared. Andy and Zach were pleased. The resort was a hit and the kids were gaining experience. The remaining weeks would be spent teaching them how to manage construction crews.
In late May, at Patwin’s graduation party, Tokada presented his son with the expensive classic muscle car that he had purchased with his Kentucky Derby proceeds. A healthier Blake, thanks to Mansi’s miraculous abilities, became enchanted with Brie. The other couples spent time eating and relaxing. Wolfgang and Allison asked Tokada to perform their surprise wedding at Monday’s First Day of Gemini meeting. While agreeing, Tokada learned about the political aspirations of Allison’s famous father and became worried that the resort might be caught in the crosshairs of political mudslinging. At that same time, he also learned that Brie was running from dangerous drug dealers and would require protection.
After the party, Patwin returned home to learn of a tragedy. The new information changed his life plan, diverting him from his trip to MIT. Quickly, he gathered his belongings and prepared for the fight of his life.
Three years later, Liz Carrington returned to the Prairie Magic resort after spending the day in magical Buffalo Grass. After passing a pleasant night with her kids, she climbed into bed to be greeted with a cold shoulder. The next morning, she learned about her husband’s lying and cheating. Following through on her prior plans, she kept her spa appointment and then received a surprise ride on the stunning black gelding she had met the day before. In true Rebel fashion, the feisty beast saved the day by taking her on the ride of her life.
What adventures await our characters next in the Wild, Wild West? Read all about it in A Fork in the Road. But be warned—it’s going to be yet another wild ride! Yee-haw!
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